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You have just been given your first supervisor position and are excited about proving you deserve this great responsibility. Most likely, you have worked under different types of leaders in your life, borrowing something from each of them that helped get you to this place.
You want to do your best, but aren't sure which style is best suited for the position you are currently about to undertake. Of all the leadership styles, transactional vs transformational leadership is the most often discussed. We are going to examine these two leadership styles and see which one is better for the job you must accomplish. Let's get started.
What is Transactional Leadership?
Transactional leadership is often the one we most think about. This type of leadership lays out all the rules for what is expected and how the task is to be carried out. You are given a specific reward for completing the task and often given some type of sanction if you fail.
This type of leadership can often be found in the military, manufacturing shops, and even schools and hospitals. First responders of all types work mainly under transactional leaders.
Transactional leadership leaves little to no room for creativity in doing your job because there is a set goal at hand and often a deadline to meet that goal. Transactional leadership is found in organizations that have a well-established work culture. Problems are taken care of only as they arise. The old saying “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” applies to this type of leadership.
What is Transformational Leadership?
Transformational leadership is all about vision. It is seen in new or innovative areas where an established protocol is often non-existent. Think about social change organizations, rescue agencies, or the areas of computer game development. Leaders spend their energy and charisma motivating those they lead to become leaders in their own right.
Transformational leaders encourage free thought. They hold, share, and demonstrate core values and they exhibit trust in their followers to complete their tasks. Rewards are often internal, such as a sense of pride in doing a job well.
Transformational leaders are willing to give their followers the opportunity to learn and grow. Creativity is encouraged and the leader takes personal needs and wants into consideration. Think about the employer who will allow workers to set their own hours or work remotely when necessary. This type of leadership is highly dependent upon cooperation and communication.
Pros and Cons of Transactional Leadership
There are pros and cons with both types of leadership. That is why it is often beneficial to have a leader who can demonstrate both styles and knows when each is appropriate. Let's take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of transactional leadership.
Pros of Transactional Leadership
The pros of transactional leadership include:
Cons of Transactional Leadership
Disadvantages of transactional leadership include:
Pros and Cons of Transformational Leadership
Transformational leadership is more laid-back in its approach, which can be both a good and a bad thing, depending on the circumstances.
Pros of Transformational Leadership
The advantages of transformational leadership include:
Cons of Transformational Leadership
Just as with other leadership styles, there are also disadvantages of transformational leadership. These include:
To Sum Up the Pros and Cons…
The infographic below will give you a general overview of the pros and cons of both transactional and transformational leadership.
How to Decide Between Transactional Leadership and Transformational Leadership
Creating goals for yourself should include goals on how you want your leadership to play out in terms of getting things done. Examine the situation and your intended outcome carefully before choosing which style is needed. The following should give you a general guideline.
Focus on Transactional Leadership If:
Focus on Transformational Leadership If:
Final Thoughts on Transactional vs Transformational Leadership
Do you want to be a boss or a leader? Deciding between transactional and transformational leadership styles all boils down to what the situation calls for. You’ve gotten this far, so you should have the tools needed to figure out what’s going to work for you… and what won’t.
In most cases, any individual workplace can greatly benefit from a leader who knows when each method is necessary. A person who can utilize both styles appropriately is someone who has great potential to not only rise to the top, but also bring their followers along with them.
Check out these articles on the characteristics of a good leader and our roundup of the best leadership quotes for more useful information and inspiration as you climb your way up the ladder to success.